This is our guide for how to spend the best possible day eating, drinking, and adventuring through a new-to-you city. Here, Bradley James Dry—special events chef and longtime Tulsan—shares his tips for where to eat and what to do if you happen to find yourself on Tulsa Time.
Tulsa is a just-big-enough town. It’s bike-friendly and has an awesome LGBTQIA+ community; we have beautiful parks, an amazing music scene, and 9 out of 10 folks you encounter are really nice. People have a lot of preconceived notions about Oklahoma: They think it’s Southwestern, Midwestern, or Southern. It’s none of those, and all of them combined. Tulsa is Osage, Mvskoke Creek, and Cherokee land. (I’m a member of the Wolf Clan of the Cherokee Nation.) You can’t really get Native food here in a commercial setting, though. I’ve only seen Indigenous dishes in pop-ups, like the ones I do occasionally at American Solera Brewery.
As a cook, I’ve helped open six restaurants here; the dining scene downtown has grown substantially in the last few years. We’ve got some James Beard nodes, excellent family-run restaurants, and everything else in between.
I’ve lived a lot of places (Norway, Chicago, rural Arkansas). But when I think about Tulsa, the one word I come back to is community. Outside of my family, I haven’t felt this supported anywhere else. When I moved here 11 years ago, I knew maybe two people. Since then I’ve made some of my best friends in this town. These are relationships I know I’ll have for the rest of my life. If you stop through, check out these spots; to me, they make Tulsa feel like home.
The best time to visit is… early Spring. By mid-June, the summer heat has started to set in, but you can catch Tulsa Tough—a cycling festival featuring professional and amateur races that draws folks from all over the country.
Don’t forget to pack… sunscreen (the sun can be brutal here) and a cooler (to stock up on local beer).
A perfect place for… have a dip! Tenkiller Ferry Lake for swimming or fishing, in Oklahoma’s Green Country.
Don’t leave town without… Route 66 tchotchkes and fun Tulsa-made wares from Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curioslocated in a former 1950s gas station.
Start the Day With Biscuits and Gravy
Hodge’s Bend is the kind of place where you can grab an Oklahoma breakfast (scrambled eggs and biscuits with sausage gravy) along with a quality cortado. Or, if you’re not a breakfast person, you could swing by for a charcuterie board and cocktails before dinner. They have a huge record collection, comfy mustard-colored booths, and bistro-style seating outside.